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In February of 2012, the opportunity arose for my family to move into an old family house on the old family farm.

Many precious memories were associated with this home and we were leery of making changes. However, the wiring was dangerous and had to be updated. This required pulling off paneling. We were optimistic that we would wire it up and slap on some sheet rock, already mentally arranging our furniture in the new home.

Removing wall panels, of course, reveals everything else that is need of repair and we found ourselves removing not just walls, but ceilings and floors, as well. While there were many unpleasant discoveries, there were some treasures hiding, as well.

For instance, it was unpleasant to realize that the extent of the insulation in the house consisted of a bit of fluff and wasp nests in the attic...

But it was pleasant to discover fascinating newspaper insulation around the walls.

The newspapers throughout the house dated from 1934 to 1945.

Unfortunately, these crumbled with any attempt to remove them intact, so we weren't able to keep them.
Big, gaping hole in the ceiling. Not one of the lovelier surprises.
An intact wood floor. Definitely one of the loveliest surprises.
 We were sad to realize that we aren't naturals with sheet rock. Chris put a lot of work into mastering this new skill. Chris put a lot of work into a lot of things, actually. He's an incredible guy. 

We originally hoped to settle in to start school last fall. We had a setback last summer when freak flooding took out our bridge. Have you heard the phrase, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise"? The Lord was not willing and the creek did rise. It rose with enough violence to wash out the cement bridge. It was a month before we could get our van across it.

His timing is perfect though, right?

We're two and a half years into this endeavor and are planning to move within the next few weeks. It is not nearly as finished as we originally thought it would be when we finally moved in, but we're very ready to be there and willing to do whatever it takes.

We went from a beautiful home full of memories, to a messy adventure full of possibilities, to...just a mess. At the moment, it's a bit discouraging. In 2012, we were daydreaming about possibilities. In 2012, I had really great hair.

Now, 2015 is nearing. The possibilities don't seem as vivid in my mind at the moment. I think exhaustion does that to one's vision. It also makes you do strange things, like hack off all your hair. I can't make the hair grow and I can't make the house hurry and finish. I can learn to be content in all things.

While it isn't the way I would have mapped it out, God has taught us quite a bit, not the least of which is the fact that everything truly is in His hands and there isn't much point in fighting it.

I'll share the updated pictures of what the house looks like very soon. It calls for before and after shots, which I've never done before. I'm excited to learn how though!

UberSmart Software - a review

My girls have been trucking right along with their math skills this summer, flying through material and catching up quickly after our long pause to focus on memorizing the multiplication tables. I spoke with a friend who is a Math Tutor and she explained something to me that I have heard but never quite grasped before. She said it is as if there is a Math side and a Language side of the brain. When students encounter addition and multiplication in grade-school, they first use the Math side, but as the facts get memorized, these tables are instead filed in the Language side of the brain. The brain draws the facts from the Language side to apply to the problem solving being done with the Math side. Some students might be excellent with math but have a hard time transferring the Facts over to the Language side.

Q is for Quotidian

I've been looking forward to writing this one. This strange little word was once brand new and foreign to me. This word gave me a completely new perspective on my role as wife and mama.


: ordinary or very common
: done each day

I first heard this word when a friend recommended a book: The Quotidian Mysteries. This article is not a book review, but I hope to share a glimpse of what I learned from this book and if what I learned speaks to you, then I highly recommend reading the actual book which is scads more enlightening than my gibberish.

I was at the stage of parenting when my children were small and the laundry was unending. There were always dishes that needed washing, bodies needing bathing, floors needing scrubbing....I was overwhelmed. Daily, grinding, boring, common, unending jobs that always had to be done again, and again, and again....

and what if that's the point? They are repeated, like liturgy, again and again, turning our minds towards the Provider of all things. Everything we do affects who we become, even these mundane acts influence us. They can be performed with a contemplative spirit.

Each day, we need to bathe. The job isn't something you do and get to call Done. Our earthly bodies are so very human and temporary. The tasks that care for these bodies need to be completed again and again, daily needing more bread. Give us this day....because we need it every day. Every day we are dependent on gifts from our Father. And every day we can be grateful for them.

In light of this, these dreary chores that can be performed mindlessly with the only goal being to finish them and move on to the next are instead transformed into an act of worship. Each floor that is swept can be done with thanksgiving. Each meal that is cooked, when we are already so tired, can be cooked as an act of offering.

It has changed my outlook on daily life and I've been able to raise my children with an attitude of thanksgiving. No one enjoys doing the dishes, but we are all thankful that we were able to eat a healthy (some nights) meal and that we are able to share that meal together as a family. Those dishes are a symbol of God's mercy.

Quotidian. Mundane. Mercy. Thanksgiving. Worship.

Wizzy Gizmo - a review

Wizzy Gizmo Review
We recently received some items from a company with a name that is very fun to say: Wizzy Gizmo. Wizzy Gizmo sent us their Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament.

The Bible Track consists of 27 medium-sized cards that summarize each book of the Bible and share key chapters, passages, doctrines, and people. They are double sided, colorful, sturdy, and of excellent quality. They measure 8 x 5" and are made of heavy, glossy cardstock. Each card tells how many chapters are in the book, details about the author (or possible author), and a timeline for when the book may have been written. If an author is unknown, the cards give a brief description of possible authors and why it is thought they could be the author.

P is for Pie

I've just discovered a quick, yummy treat to take to a party! Butterfinger Pie! It could be done with just about any candy bar, but this is what we tried.

We get together with friends to play cards and such every now and then and it is usually a spur of the moment thing. This is a quick thing to toss together to contribute to the counter full of yummy goodness.

Butterfinger Pie
6 Butterfinger candy bars (or 2 oz of whatever)
1 package cream cheese
1 carton cool whip
1 9" graham cracker pie crust (not the new bigger size, sadly.)

1. Pulse the butterfingers in food processor and pour into a bowl.
2. Blend the cream cheese and cool whip together in food processor.
3. Stir or pulse most of the butterfinger chunks into the cream mixture. Reserve a handful.
4. Pour mix into pie crust
5. Sprinkle reserved candy bar chunks on top.

Easy, fast, and best of all yummy. Remind me later to share a great recipe for homemade butterfingers!

Filling the Folders

*Disclaimer: All of these plans are not because I am Miss Super-Organized Mama. These plans are because I'm a MESS, y'all. If I didn't take these couple weeks to lay it all out, I fear what our year would look like because it's a train wreck up in here.

As I've said, these plans are to get me started. After that, it's a miracle if I stick to them beyond December. But I can always find them and jump back in if I find the will. This next step is a beautiful joke. I think it's brilliant, but I've yet to use it well. I start with grand plans (and way too many of them) and we soon pare things down to bare essentials. These files are part of the excessive grand plans that don't have to be. Every year, I am certain things will be different. I'm determined we will slow down and be more leisurely in our days. This year, I'm as determined as ever, even though things look more chaotic than ever. Or perhaps it's because things look more chaotic than ever. 

So here it is: 
A file folder for every week of the year. I generally just fill them to December and intend to fill the second semester during Christmas Break. Perhaps that's why we never take these plans into the new year? 

These files contain the workbook full of extra math drills, copywork, the coloring pages that coincide with our history lessons, the ebook unit studies, and the cool vocabulary posters that I plan to introduce. If my master plan tells me we'll study the Erie Canal on week 23, that's where the lapbook elements for canals would go. (I have never and will never assign a lapbook about canals. That was just an example. A bad example.) When we studied anatomy, I assigned different body parts each week and had large cut-outs of each organ to color and glue to their wall posters. Yes, I had body parts in my file cabinet. 

This gets the fun stuff out of my computer where I forget they exist and into the hands of my children. For a while. And then we pare down out of desperation. But it will be better this year. It really will!

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

While there are many groups participating in this week's blog hop, I'd like to especially draw your attention to this group of ladies, whom I'm teaming up with:

And then it's time for the magic

*Disclaimer: All of these plans are not because I am Miss Super-Organized Mama. These plans are because I'm a MESS, y'all. If I didn't take these couple weeks to lay it all out, I fear what our year would look like because it's a train wreck up in here. 

This part is fun for me. This is where the math comes in!

Actually, there's one more step in here before math, but I haven't been able to do it yet. It's the step where we pull out all of the books we'll be using for the year and stack them up. Here's a picture of what that looked like last year:

After this,  I decide which ones make the cut and organize them. Then the math.

For the books we are using, I take the number of lessons in the book and divide them into my 36 weeks of lessons. I divide up our school work by weeks, even though we will be in school much more than 36 weeks. I divide up the books, not because our schedule is rigid, but because it is so very fluid that I personally need to know the framework for the plan before we dive in. I get off track so easily it's scary, and this allows me to jump in at any point and figure out where we are and where we need to be in order to still finish our books before the next school year begins. In the younger years, it didn't matter so much. We're tracking high school credits now and it really, really matters.

My family could take 3 years to finish a one year Latin book. We do that. Sometimes, it's because we enjoy doing it in tiny increments. Sometimes, it's because we forget a book is on our list. We lay it down for a week and it's as if it never existed.

I need a plan. It has to be a fluid plan, one that can adapt to our year round schedule and allow for spontaneous trips to Texas. Or Paris. For me, the perfect plan is to divide up the year into "weeks". The week #s won't actually translate into weeks of the year (for long), but they will allow me to always see where we are. For instance, we could be in our 10th week of school and be working on "week 6" of science. Sure, I'm 4 weeks behind in this subject, but it is okay because I actually have 42 full weeks of school. We have room to wiggle. If my son wants to continue working on his science during Christmas School, he has that option so that there is even more wiggle room during the summer when he wants to consider going to camps, retreats, and mission trips.

For example, let's take a look at Apologia's Physical Science book, with 16 modules. 36 weeks divided by 16 modules = 2.25 weeks per module. But I don't want to take the lessons partway into the next week if we can help it. So, if I take 2 weeks per module, we'll finish this book in 32 weeks. If I give it 3 weeks per module we'll finish it in 48 weeks. No thank you. 32 weeks means lots of wiggle room, which I like. The modules are not overwhelming, so this works really well.

Using Donna Young's 36-week Schedule form, I write Module 1 on week 1, Module 2 on week 3, Module 3 on week 5, and so forth. I have one of these forms for each class.

For one son, this is perfect. For the other, I need to divide it down even more and divide the pages in that module by 5 so he can know how many pages he should read each day of that week. If his wife ever tries to control him, I'm pretty sure he will say, "Thank you!"

I should note that we don't organize our literature assignments this way, unless they are part of another course that requires things be read by a certain time. For literature reading, we just read. They generally put in at least an hour per day of reading assigned lit. Sometimes we hit all of the books on my list, sometimes we don't.

One more step before we're finished planning and that's the file folders, which I'll introduce tomorrow. Here's a teaser:

On a different note, Sabbath Mood Homeschool recently shared a great series on lesson planning with a Charlotte Mason approach.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

While there are many groups participating in this week's blog hop, I'd like to especially draw your attention to this group of ladies, whom I'm teaming up with:

School Days

*Disclaimer: All of these plans are not because I am Miss Super-Organized Mama. These plans are because I'm a MESS, y'all. If I didn't take these couple weeks to lay it all out, I fear what our year would look like because it's a train wreck up in here. 

Once we've settled on the books we'll be using, it's time to settle on the days we'll have available for teaching. I sit down with a blank calendar template and shade in the days we know we won't have in school. This changes depending on when holidays and weekends fall. Here is my calendar template. It's simple, but it's what I need and I'd love to share it if it can help you.

This year, January first occurs on a Thursday. We'll likely stay up late on Wednesday night and be too tired for much school on New Year's Day. I lightly shade in the Monday-Wednesday before this to keep in mind that we might want to just take the entire week off. Christmas is just the Thursday before this and we'll likely still be enjoying leftovers and new toys come Monday morning. When do you go back? How much break do you take around Christmas?

We'll observe Good Friday. We'll probably invite friends over for a Valentine party and a St. Patrick's Day party, so there go another two Fridays. Election Day and Ash Wednesday will be half days, with other focus. What days does your family pause for?

We'll also stop our regular lessons through all of December and replace it with Christmas School.

This leaves roughly 42 weeks that are nearly full Monday-Friday weeks. We school year round, but will still only aim for the standard 36 weeks of lesson plans. Our books are challenging and good and I don't want to rush through them. This leaves 6 weeks to fit in our Charlotte Mason-style review weeks as well as family visits out of state, spontaneous camping days, and "snow" days that beg for us to come out and sled. Honestly, these 6 weeks will mostly disappear with slow mornings of tea and read-alouds of Edith Nesbit or George Macdonald, followed by half-hearted attempts at the rest of our lessons.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

While there are many groups participating in this week's blog hop, I'd like to especially draw your attention to this group of ladies, whom I'm teaming up with:

The Hardest Part

Far and away, the most difficult part of homeschooling for me is narrowing down which of the good things we get to keep on the schedule. There are too many wonderful things out there! How do I opt to leave out philosophy or art? I can't!

This year seems more difficult than any other. My oldest will be a junior and has only two years left to learn all the things! We still need to work on grammar and writing, and will always have a good dose of literature. I have several wonderful programs that help cover these topics, as well as other areas at the same time. But we can't fit them all in.

This week, I must narrow it down from:
  • The Greeks, which combines incredible literature, worldview, philosophy, and writing assignments into 1-2 hours per day. It could also include Art, History, and Geography if I wanted to add in another hour.
  • Philosophy Adventure, which also teaches philosophy, writing, and geography.
  • Brit Lit, which strongly teaches writing and literature.
  • Rod & Staff Grammar
  • IEW, a solid writing program, which is going to be fabulous if we ever decide to finish it.
So far, we have:
Math - Singapore
Science - Chemistry, dual enrollment through our community college
History - Hodge-Podge of Norton, Churchill, and lots of good lit. Geography with Knowledge Quest.
Latin - Visual Latin
Music, which will be a combination of orchestra & music appreciation, especially fun with this this year's modern history cycle.
Language Arts: One of those beautiful programs listed above. Or a combination if at all possible.

In addition to these basics, I really want to get in Art, Astronomy, Economics, Philosophy, Logic, and Theology. But that's just getting silly, now isn't it?

How do you determine what makes the cut?

Several years ago, Andrew Kern joined a discussion on The Well Trained Mind forums. It was brilliant and I copied what he shared to keep in a file that I could read and reread. I forgot about it for a couple years, but recently rediscovered it. Here is the file of the cut-and-paste contributions from Kern. I highly recommend it.

He recommends keeping the focus off of choosing "courses", but instead pursuing wisdom and virtue. Course descriptions are to be gathered from what has been taught, not teaching gathered from what needs taught to meet the goals established from a course description. He has this (and many other brilliant things) to say about it:

"I've been told it's idealistic, but what people often really mean by that is that they don't think it will get kids into college. I totally and vehemently disagree. I agree with Plautus who said:

Virtus praemium est optimum

"Virtue itself is the highest reward"

He then went on to enumerate how everything else depends on virtue. We can't have the everything else that we want without virtue, but we won't have virtue if we seek everything so hard that we don't nourish the goose that lays the golden egg.

And the goose is nothing other than virtue."

From this amazing conversation that I am so happy I stumbled upon, I know that regardless of what curricula I choose, my days WILL begin with a determination to look for the true, the good, and the beautiful, and I will gaze upon them when I find them.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

While there are many groups participating in this week's blog hop, I'd like to especially draw your attention to this group of ladies, whom I'm teaming up with:

Back to School!

Much as I've tried to suspend time, the fall semester keeps looming closer and closer. It is hard sometimes to get into the right mindset and focus on the upcoming year. It would be easier if there weren't a thousand other things vying for attention, as I'm sure you well know. My family homeschools year-round, so we're still wrapping up other subjects while I'm trying to get motivated to introduce new subjects.

Though life has refused to pause, we're down to the wire and I have decided that the upcoming week will have my full organizing focus every day. Well, except the two days we have doctor appointments. And the planning meetings for our new fall program starting up at church. get the idea. And you have the same busy schedule, so you totally know where I'm coming from.

Something that helps me every year is to stop and read thoughts from other homeschooling mamas. I need the encouragement that comes from hearing about other moms talk about their plans. I need the opportunity to glean from the wisdom of those who have found their groove. I need the tips and tricks. I need to see school supplies on sale. The creative juices get flowing and I find myself ready to dive in with a fresh enthusiasm. 

This year, there are over 50 mamas contributing such articles to the Back To School Blog Hop. Perfect timing! Ahhh! 
Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

Join me this week as I share what small bits I have to offer by way of encouragement, tips & tricks, and been-there-done-that advice. 

I have 11 years in the game and I've learned a thing or two. But mostly, as in life, I've learned that I really know so very little and I have lots more to learn. 

While there are many groups participating in this week's blog hop, I'd like to especially draw your attention to this group of ladies, whom I'm teaming up with:

Order Brings Peace

photo credit: shioshvili via photopin cc
Order Brings Peace. I have it pinned next to my bathroom mirror, to remind me every morning of a basic fact. It looks a bit ironic sitting there next to a mirror splattered with toothpaste residue and over a counter covered in a fine sprinkling of mineral powders of various shades. Some mornings, I see that quote and I square my shoulders, ready to tackle the chaos of my day. To own it. To conquer it. Some mornings, I see the quote, surrounded by so much disorder, and my shoulders sag, overwhelmed before I even begin.

This year has been very humbling, full of lesson after lesson of God showing me how weak I really am. He has certainly revealed to me that I cannot accomplish much on my own strength.

We school year round, but I find a need for a fresh wind each September. Labor Day marks the beginning of our "new year". It feels like a new beginning for me every year. It is my New Year's Day. It is not full of resolution goals, but it is marked by determination. I do not "hope" to improve my habits this year. I resolve to improve my habits. I am resolved that I will walk in order. I will walk in peace. I will embrace the simplicity of my calling and I will enjoy the bliss that comes from it.

"Order" is on many hearts this week, as new school year's begin. Marcy, the lovely blogger who hosts the ABCblogging, also has a fabulous post this week on that important topic. 

The Greeks - a review

For centuries, it has been acknowledged that a classical education must include a study of the "Great Books" to be considered a quality education. These Great Books begin with the influences of the ancient world. Great civilizations of the past have formed the foundation of Western Civilization. By studying our past, we improve our understanding of our present and gain a clearer vision of our future.

Roman Roads Media Review
Having no personal instruction in the humanities, I was very excited to receive this generous package from Roman Roads Media, who sent us Old Western Culture: The Greeks. This full-year course consists of four separate "units" and is, "A Christian Approach to the Great Books." The four units in this course are:

Roman Roads Media has created 4 years of material in the Old Western Culture Series. My family is very thankful to have had the chance to review this study on the Greeks. This is a high school level course, intended for grades 8-12. As it deals with primary texts, and we are talking about ancient Greek culture, I do not recommend using it with students younger than 8th grade. While it does approach the topics with a Christian lens, it is more appropriate for mature audiences.

This series contains 4 units which are made up of 16 DVDs with over 20 hours of instruction, 4 Art Guides that correspond with the lessons, 4 workbooks which include Answer Keys, and lots of fabulous online resources. Students will need to purchase the reading material or download the free versions of the texts. Specific publications are recommended, but it is taught with flexibility to allow for the free downloads or other publications.

Roman Roads Media Review
The Greeks is divided into 4 units: 
1. The Epics. Works covered: The Iliad and The Odyssey
2. Drama and Lyric. Works covered: A collection of Greek plays and poetry.
3. The Histories. Works covered: Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon
4. The Philosophers. Works covered: selected readings from Plato and Aristotle.

The Lectures
All of the units are taught by Wes Callihan, who is a master storyteller. This was my first introduction to Callihan, but he apparently has a rich history in classical education, both in teaching, publishing, and speaking. He has a deep knowledge of the material and shares it in such a way that brings each story to life and leaves you hanging on his every word. The lectures are around half an hour each and they are shared from what looks like his study. They are professional, yet inviting.

The Reading
Students will read some amazing literature throughout this year's assignments. The author has carefully studied the available publications and recommends very specific books. They are detailed to purchase independently and available for sale on the website. However the books are also available as free ebooks on the website. These are not the recommended translations, but the author says they are satisfactory.

The Workbooks
Each video lecture is followed by comprehension questions (averaging 5 per lecture) which can be found in the spiral notebook, the downloadable workbook, or the DVD itself. The DVDs list the questions for each lecture and are hyperlinked to the relevant chapter of the lecture where the questions are addressed. If students have trouble remembering answers, they can rewatch that linked section on the DVD. The answer keys are found at the back of the workbooks.

Art Guides
Each Unit includes an Art Guide with its DVD case. These are an optional addition to your studies. They are not required at all, but they are a fabulous addition to the lessons. These Art Guides are also available as free PDF downloads from Roman Roads Media. These are small enough to fit in the DVD case, but are packed full of interesting and relevant material. The Art Guide for The Epics is 21 pages long and contains 18 colorful prints with descriptions.  Drama & Lyric's 21 pages contains 15, The Histories' 21 pages contains 15, and The Philosophers' 17 pages contains 12 works of art. There are excellent lists at the end of each guide, with recommendations for other works to study which correlate with each chapter in the study.

Other Assignments
In addition to the lectures, reading, and comprehension questions, students are also assignment term papers and exams. Each quarter ends with an assignment for a term paper of 750-1200 words. There are several discussion topics provided throughout each quarter's workbook and they are recommended as possible term paper topics. However, students are welcome to come up with their own topics as long as they are relevant to the term's lecture or reading.

The exams are downloaded from the website. Each quarter provides two exams: A and B. These are similar in style and level of difficulty, but have varying content. This gives students a second chance to improve their test score and to reinforce their mastery of the subject.

Roman Roads Media Review
The Lectures:

The Epics
This is the portion we have worked through so far, and where I am able to share the most detail. This quarter begins with a 20 minute Introduction to Old World Culture that you will NOT want to miss. Callihan defines "Great Books" and conveys the importance of a Christian perspective that doesn't replace the education of the past, but deepens our appreciation and understanding of history and the Great Books.

The introduction lists many Christian books of the medieval age that were highly influential, and yet are not on common Great Book lists. For instance, The Golden Legend was the most popular in distribution and copying for 200 years, second only to the Bible. And yet, it is commonly ignored by modern lists. The Venerable Bede's definitive history of England is quoted the world over, but is not on modern lists. It's a fabulous introduction that has students eager to dive into the rich history and literature lessons ahead.

The next lesson provides a backdrop to the Iliad. It begins with a five minute introduction to the outline of the upcoming year and then 15 minutes bringing the Iliad to life. For The Iliad, they recommend Richard Latimore's translation by the University of Chicago Press as it is the more faithful rendering of the story and provides the "feel" of the poem. It also includes numbered lines, to help follow the study. But again, the lectures are flexible for use of other publications or the free download linked on the Roman Roads website.

At the end of this lecture, students are assigned the first 4-5 books of the Iliad. It is recommended that they read aloud, even if it is just mumbling to themselves, so that they can "taste the poem" which was created to be shared orally.

The next week's lecture discusses the first four books of The Iliad. It helps readers to understand that the purpose of the story is explained at the beginning of the book and that everything stems from the Anger of Achilles and the consequences of that anger. It provides relevant details, such as the explanation that Homer never uses the term "Greeks", but instead references the "Achaeans", which is what he knew them as. It also shares perspective on a line in the story that says, "she persuaded the fool's heart within him." The Christian lens that is shared throughout the study helps us recognize that fool's heart within all of us. This lecture assigns books 5-9 of The Iliad, and the following lectures on Homer continue to assign 4-5 books from The Iliad and then The Odyssey each week.

The 9-week quarter ends with a lecture discussing the legacy of Homer in Western Civilization. Truly, Callihan is truly talented and provides a brilliant perspective for readers.

Drama and Lyric
This quarter includes 12 lectures that cover The Tragedies, Comedies, and Minor Poems of Ancient Greece. 7 of the 10 texts from the lecture can be purchased as a Roman Roads Reader packages for $22, which is a significant savings compared to the cost of purchasing all of the books independently. As with the other reading assignments, free ebooks are available, though not in the recommended translations. The first lecture gives a background of the development of Theater. The next gives background for "the Period, the Poets, and the Presentation." Students spend 9 weeks studying the following: Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, The Eumenides, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone, The Trojan Women, Medea, The Frogs, The Clouds, Sappho/Pindar/Theocritus, Works and Days, The Fall of Troy, and The Argonautica.

The Philosophers
This quarter includes 12 lectures that discuss The Works of Plato and Aristotle. The first lecture gives an overview of Greek philosophy. After this, students take 4 weeks to work through Plato's works, including:
The Apology, The Crito & Phaedo, The Phaedrus, and The Republic. Next, students spend 4 weeks studying Aristotle's Metaphysics, Ethics, and Poetics. This quarter ends with a lecture on The Lessons of Greek Philosophy.

The Histories
This final quarter includes 12 lectures that discuss Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon. The first lecture gives an overview of Greek History. Students spend 4 weeks on Herodotus, 3 weeks on Thucydides (which is really fun to say), and 2 weeks on Xenophon. The schedule provided in the guide shows an edit to the schedule provided on the DVD.

This is an incredible resource. The DVD collection can be purchased for $224.00, or you can purchase online streaming access for $199.00. The digital art guides, workbooks, exams, etc. are available for free with purchase of either format. You can also purchase the 4 spiral-bound workbooks for $48.00

Be sure to check out the incredible amount of free resources as well as the full Sample Lesson available online. I am certain you will be impressed.

Roman Roads has many other materials available. Be sure to check out the many reviews from the Crew by clicking on the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer


I've been feeling overwhelmed lately. We had a fabulous Vacation Bible School, and I thought that I would breathe a bit easier once we finished it, but there are lots of little, yet very important, follow-up jobs that follow VBS and I've felt slammed by many other things since then. I can't seem to get my head above water. 

We're renovating an old farmhouse and trying to move into it, but the house we're currently living in has required emergency repairs. I'm currently staying at my parents' house and recovering from the Worst Allergy Attack in History. WAAH. Yes, Waah. Can you hear the whining? 

You are likely dealing with your own storms and mine probably seems rather silly, but it's mine. God's been teaching me a lesson through it. It's one you've likely already learned and the fact that I'm needing to learn it might also seem silly to you. But in case anyone else is in a wallowing kind of mood today, I'm going to share it.

Much as I try to wallow in my situation, God keeps nudging me in the shoulder to stand up, look at it what's really going on. That latest unwanted scenario was unpleasant, yes, but now what are you going to do about it?  

This C.S. Lewis quote showed up in my feed this morning and I think it says it well:

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.” 

For me, it's a reminder to not wallow in the "what went wrong" or to live in the mindset of what my future plans are (the plans that keep getting interrupted), but to recognize, with a good attitude, what is going on in the here and now.

Last night at church, when I wanted to just go home and curl up in bed (but oh, yeah, I can't go home to my bed,) this is the hymn sung at church:

It sings of God taking our hand during those storm-times, not to say "there-there", but to help us stand up.

There are times for resting, but there are not times for wallowing. Right now, it is time to stand up and do what needs doing. I'm not standing on my own strength, but with Him holding my hand and leading me where He wants me to go.

1 Thessalonians 3:8 says it best:

For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

Living NOW includes annoyances that feel like trials and even real trials. But it doesn't make improve situations to live anywhere but the here-and-now. Now, it's time for me to stand up and stand firm in the Lord. 

Lightning Lit - a review

My oldest son is methodical. He loves math and all things orderly. He spends his free time (and his work time) daydreaming about how to construct and build complicated contraptions. He is an engineer at heart and we tease him about having cog wheels where his heart should be. Knowing this, it is especially funny to me that this boy also loves British Literature. I confess, the language bogs me down and I have a hard time embracing medieval lit, but he immerses himself in it for hours, complaining if too many months go by without me assigning more.

Currently, we are well out of the medieval stage in history and I'm stretching him by moving him up to more modern fare. We're now sampling eartly to mid-19th Century works thanks to Hewitt Homeschooling, who sent us the Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid 19th Century Student's Guide and the Lightning Literature and Composition: British Early-Mid Teacher's Guide.

Hewitt Homeschooling Review
This is a high school level course, intended for grades 9-12. It is a challenging program that I would not recommend for younger students. 

In this program, students study 4 major works and many poems from the era. The poems are included in the Student's Guide, but students will need access to the following:
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Jane Eyre by  Charlotte Bronte
In the Student's Guide ($29.95), students begin by reading an introduction, which gives a brief biography of an author, before moving on to the selection (be it poem or story) being taught. Questions are provided to keep in mind while reading the selection. These prepare students for the lesson to follow. 

Following the reading, students answer comprehension questions. These can be used as comprehension assignments, as tests, or for class discussion. It is recommended that students answer comprehension questions as they read, rather than after reading the entire week's assignments. For example, Week One assigns 23 chapters of Pride and Prejudice.  There are 49 questions to follow this work, but they are divided up so that students can answer 17 questions in reference to chapters 1-4, 10 questions regarding chapters 5-12, 13 questions regarding chapters 13-15, and 9 questions for chapters 16-23. 

After the Comprehension Questions, students read the Literary Lesson. This section helps to increase the reader's understanding of how to read more deeply and to recognize techniques. It also helps to improve the student's writing. 

Students next move on to Writing Exercises. Students are encouraged to complete one writing exercise for each of the shorter selections and at least two for every major work. 

The Appendices include more discussion prompts and projects, additional reading suggestions, and schedules.  The book's introduction includes compact, yet fabulous suggestions for improving reading and writing skills 

The Teacher's Guide ($2.95) comes as plain, whole punched paper, stapled at the top. You will want a binder for this. 

The Guide has excellent guidelines for grading students' writing. As it says, if you were to gather 100 English teachers, they would find 100 different ways to grade a paper. The guide finds commonalities and helps you fairly evaluate writing assignments.    

Grading Tips are given for Non-fiction, Fiction, and Poetry. It even gives checklists for each of these, as well as score sheets.

Schedules are clearly lined out by week. There are two schedule options: 1 Semester-long course (18 weeks,) which is recommended by the publisher, or a 1 year-long course (36 weeks,) for students supplementing with a separate grammar work or language arts material.  

The Teacher's Guide also includes answers to Comprehension Questions. The Student's Guide's Introduction states that the answers are also in the Student Appendix A, but it they are not. Appendix A provides Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions.

The Teacher's Guide states that the first week's assignments are demanding, but that the rest of the workload is not as heavy-going. We opted to stretch this first week, which included studying William Blake and his poetry as well as the first 23 chapters of Pride and Prejudice plus comprehension questions, into two weeks. This is the first exposure my sons have had with Jane Austen and I wanted to introduce them a bit more gently, in hopes they will love it as much as I do. We school year-round, so this will not throw us off track too badly.                

My sons (ages 14 and 17) have found the material to be challenging, but interesting. You can read a sample of Lesson 2 here. They both appreciate the clear instructions and the orderly layout.

Hewitt offers quite a few great resources for all ages. Be sure to check out what the rest of the Crew has used by following the link below.

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